Can I have my circuit board repaired, or is it better to replace electronics?

Since the advent of online tutorials, such as Repairclinic.com and YouTube, attempting repair work on electronics has become commonplace.  Even I have replaced my cell phone glass a time or twelve.  As the cost of devices continue to rise, it’s not necessarily a bad idea to opt to repair electronics, rather than replace them.

Having said that, PCB assembly and repair is not child’s play.  It’s one thing to replace the glass cover on a cell phone, and quite another to solder electrical components. I’ll offer a general piece of advice; If everything you know about science and technology was learned from Back to the Future, it may not be wise to attempt a circuit board repair using online tutorials.  There are a lot of hobbyists who really excel at circuit board work, but most of them have had years of practice on scratch materials. Attempting a repair with an expensive piece for the first time is more than likely going to result in you having to replace it anyway.

In short, if you are going to attempt the repair, have a professional do the work.  This can still save you a significant amount of money. There are several scenarios in which it is not a better idea to repair the work, and I’ve listed them below.

Your electronic device is in overall poor condition

If you’ve been having ongoing problems with your electronic device and you’re not even sure it’s the circuit board that is the problem, you may be dealing with a money pit.  Also, consider if the electronic looks like its seen better days and has no real resale value, is it worth the money to fix?

Your electronic device is being phased out or discontinued

Again, consider resale value and how difficult it would be to find replacement parts, should you need additional work done in the future.  With EPA regulations changing, a lot of replacement parts on older model electronics are being banned or phased out.

The Repair Cost is greater than 50% of a replacement purchase

Consumer Reports has been saying this for years and it’s great advice.  Generally, speaking if the cost to repair is greater than 50 percent, it’s a better idea to invest in a new product.  This way you regain a warranty coverage, as well as enjoy a longer life expectancy for your new device.

Too difficult to extract the circuit board

This is especially true for big pieces of equipment or delicate pieces of equipment that you’ll have to remove and send in for repairs. When removing the board, you run the risk of causing further damage to the board or inadvertently damaging other parts of the electronic. Often, you won’t event know additional damage was done until after you’ve paid for the repairs and find the device is still not working properly.

While there are several instances in which you’d want to replace your electronic rather than repairing circuit board work, there are also instances in which repairing is the better option. If you are dealing with a commercial or custom made product, you might have the option of sending it back to the company that built the circuit board for you in the first place.  They should know definitively whether the damage is repairable, or if they recommend replacement.